A crisis in U.S. public transportation safety was acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Transportation at the beginning of the year with the USDOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy.
This acknowledgment has evolved with the USDOT’s creation of the “Safe System Approach,” a body of safety strategies intended to supply layered protection through increased safety measurements for people, roads, and vehicles along with speed management systems and renewed post-crash care, as reported by Transport Topics.
“The ‘Safe System Approach’ holistically builds and reinforces multiple layers of protection to both prevent crashes from happening in the first place, and minimize the harm caused to those involved when crashes do occur,” the USDOT stated.
Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted about the USDOT’s update on Oct. 15:
“At a time when it is safer to fly across the country than it is to walk across town, we must all act to address the crisis on our nation’s roadways. With new resources from President (Joe) Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, we are taking critical steps to save lives on our roadways.”
The safety strategy includes strengthened monitoring of technology in vehicles, headed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Federal Highway Administration meanwhile has promoted “complete streets” at the state level. These “complete streets” are created with the intention for safety at every level of transportation.
“Complete Streets provide users with essential access to the transportation network, regardless of mode choice,” according to a report by the FHWA. “Access, or connectivity, determines how easily people can move throughout the transportation system. At its simplest level, network connectivity addresses how travelers can move safely and easily from place to place.”
Alongside these improvements is a deliberation of safety grants for governments at smaller levels, including regional, tribal, and local, totaling $1 billion.
The USDOT is acting in response to data collected in 2021 which indicated almost 43,000 fatalities on roads. This was a 10.5% increase from 2020. While it could be concluded that the onslaught of the 2020 pandemic lowered road travel and thus crashes, the USDOT still feels that safety should be increased and is taking the steps to see this increase.